Sunday, September 29, 2013

Enchanting Eastern Europe - Lake Bled/Slovenia

September 13 after lunch. We crossed the Austrian border into Slovenia around 4.45pm. Under the Eurozone agreement border immigration control was abolished so we breezed through the empty checkpoints. The weather had cleared and when we arrived Lake Bled the skies had turned blue. For the first time we felt excited to take the boat ride into the only island there. My wife developed aches on her hip and found a piece of tree branch to serve as a walking stick. The island is within rowing distance from the shore and to minimize both air and water pollution the Slovenian authorities disallowed the use of diesel engine motors on the boats which are each rowed manually by a well built hunky man on each boat that can carry up to 20 passengers. According to our guide the business of ferrying tourists to and fro the Bled Island belong to one family and is handed down from generation to generation. One wonder what will happen if the next generation is not interested or has no sons.

The Bled Lake was formed by the recession of the Bohinj Glacier after the last Ice Age and the only land form protruding out of the water is now a very popular tourist attraction. Upon this island is the church dedicated to the Assumption of Mary. It has a 52 meter high tower and is accessed by 99 steps from the dock. Weddings are held regularly in this church and by tradition the groom will carry his bride up the 99 steps, ring the bell in the tower and make a wish. For us we were given the chance to pull the rope to the bell thrice, make a wish and listen out for the chimes outside. If the sound of the chimes are audible then the wish is granted. I did and wished for my wife's hip pain to go away.

From the laughters and smiles I guess this must be a very memorable visit to Slovenia. With a good weather forecast tomorrow, the sightseeing tour of Ljubljana (pronounce as lyublyana) promises to be equally fun. Leaving Lake Bled after an uneventful dinner we headed for the Hotel Mons in the outskirt of Ljubljana the capital of Slovenia where we will put up 2 nights.

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